The little things are significant. And one of the best reminders of this came to me in Spain. In my Barcelona, with unsavory smells and vespas sputtering in roundabouts. Where women walked up and down the beach shouting prices for back massages in earshot of sunbathers. Where, one hot day, I put on a white sundress and sandals and headed to La Sagrada Familia – Antoni Gaudí’s famous Catholic Church.
The church pays tribute to nature’s designs. Its pinnacles look like heads of lavender. There are honeycombs in the stonework. Flowers in the ceiling. Arches modeled on rib cages. And it makes you think.
It makes you think about the perfect design of your own rib cage. Bones that grew – without any direction from you – inside your mom, and then outside your mom. It makes you think about your heart. The tissues and fibers pumping blood to your feet, and fingers, and brain. And how ’bout that brain? Which tells you: “Those roses are beautiful,” and “I want to smell them,” and whose synapses fire commanding your back and knees to bend, and your olfactory system which allows you smell the pink and red blooms outside your office building during lunch.
Your brain, gray muscle divided into two, contains memories from every person you’ve ever been, like each person has their own attic up there, filled with mementoes, pictures, and things you said, and things people said to you, and chests full of yellowing, dusty clothing like first communion dresses. Someone once told me, I was going to be a really cool old lady someday, and that was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. Sitting on a wooden fence in Seattle, I could see that old lady, and I’m excited to try and be the best version of her.
Gaudi wanted to glorify God by using nature’s designs. And at the top of La Sagrada Familia when I was 21 almost 22, the buildings – everything from pink apartments to gothic pavilions – and forest green parks beneath me, I thought about Gaudí, and he directed me to a truth. He still does and the truth is: the world is mysterious and marvelous.
It makes you think about the delicate, yet ironclad structure which hold a butterfly’s wings together. Every seed on a strawberry. The velvety flanks of a horse running in the rain. Whitewashed adobe missions abandoned in the desert.
It’s hard to not let the little things get to you. It’s hard to not let your critic win. It’s hard to commute to and from work every day if you’re at a job you’re not sure about. It’s hard to talk to your mother when she’s in so much pain, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help her.
So yes, there are hard things. But I like the reminders like this. Because to me? They’re the truth. They’re the truest things.
The truth is, the dawns at the half dome in Yosemite are buttery. Golden light. There are lands you’ll never see. There’s love, which lifts us up like buoys, forever and all the time. And the little things are significant. And like Jack Kerouac said, “Life is holy.” Life is holy. Every breath, every dawn.